Let me say, before I begin, that any Fujifilm medium format mirrorless camera, in terms of image quality and dynamic range capacity, produces absolutely stunning results. Given their small size and price point, I can see landscape and portrait photographers buying even the discontinued GFX 50r.
The 50sii and the 100s, both in identical bodies with a new process are the newest in this family of cameras. If you are looking for a lightweight, small and all-weather medium format camera then these two are not only the most reasonable on the market but the most versatile. A rugged medium format camera is not typical nor is its size, only slightly larger than full-frame cameras, making them far easier to pack into remote sites and use in inclement weather. Their advantage over a full-frame camera is a sensor that is 70% larger, which makes a difference in its light gathering ability.
In terms of price point with the exception of the older GFX 100, the remaining cameras are in the same price range as high-resolution mirrorless full-frame cameras.
|GFX 50 ii
GFX Camera Bodies Are Shrinking
You can see from the illustration below that, compared to the earlier 100s and even the smaller GFX50r and 50s this new body is smaller.
If you already own a GFX 50r or a 50s and wish to upgrade in order to get in-body image stabilization (IBIS) then you may be struggling with which of these two cameras to purchase. The 50sii has the older CMOS sensor but the 100s has a BSI-CMOS copper substrate sensor. The difference aside from the resolution and sensor technology is $2800 CDN, but understanding other differences in image quality is important in making this decision.
In my comparison between the 100s and 50r, I found there was a difference between how the two cameras were rendering. The lower resolution and older sensor appeared a little richer and softer, but the 100s appear cleaner and brighter. You can see this difference in the following image. I also noticed a slight difference in the exposure perhaps a 1/4 of a stop difference. The dynamic range in the detail in both images appears to be very similar.
When I dropped the resolution on the image from the 100s to match the size of the 50sii, as you see in the image below, I saw much better noise reduction. So even though the noise level was the same at 100%, this meant if you printed both images at the same size, the 100s might look less noisy if the print was quite large.
Once the two images were processed the difference other than resolution seemed to disappear, so likely any differences between these two cameras would only be visible in a very large print.
The biggest difference between the two”50″ cameras and the GFX100s is the jump in megapixels, as well as the cost. If you are doing very large prints then the increase in resolution might be worth the extra $2800. However, there should be other advantages from the more modern BSI sensor with a copper substrate. However, the pixel pitch (pixel size) is smaller on the 100s which might mean less dynamic range and perhaps more noise. What I found is the dynamic range and noise level in the shadows at 100% looked the same. So it did appear a more modern sensor at a smaller pixel pitch matched the quality of an older sensor with a larger pixel pitch.
Individuals who have upgraded to the 50sii from either the 50s or 50r report that the new processor seems to be producing cleaner images in terms of noise and is slightly brighter. So some of the differences I initially observed may be mitigated by the new processor in the 50sii. I have been told by Fujifilm that the new process has made a difference in improving the 50sii noise level and overall image quality. So the image quality, as others have reported, is better than the 50 and 50r.
The ergonomics of the GFX100s compared to the GFX 50R for me was an improvement. The new grip makes it much easier to hold in the field and the dials are perfectly located to be able to make adjustments to the exposure. The replacement of wonderful retro dials on the top of the camera with an always-on, e-ink display opened up new opportunities for me. Before turning on the camera I can still check my settings but in addition, I can switch to histogram mode while on a tripod and using the LCD. This allowed me to focus on the screen while still watching the histogram.
Like all Fujifilm cameras, there are lots of buttons to program and more than enough ways to customize the camera. In a way this new design is more comfortable to use and more intuitive, helping to make the camera move into the background while I focused on the next composition.
Size Comparison with Full Frame and APSC
The two cameras are much smaller than a flagship DSLR camera and slightly larger than the Sony full-frame cameras and the Fujifilm APSC X-T4. The diagram below shows the size difference, and there is a link should you want to compare different perspectives of these cameras. Lenses as you move from APSC to Full Frame cameras become larger, heavier and more expensive for similar quality. The same is true when you move from Full Frame to Medium Format. The second image illustrates the difference in 50mm lens and their equivalents.
The Sensor in the 50s, 50r and 50s ii
One question that comes up over and over again is how good is the sensor in these cameras? The cameras use the same sensor as the one found in the X1D Hasselblad, which in DXO tests has a very high rating. Higher than a number of Full Frame cameras with much newer sensor technology and other medium format sensors, as you can see from the scores below. I don’t think Fujifilm has gone wrong placing this older sensor into this newer body with an improved processor, after all I don’t see Sony producing a new 50mp sensor in this size.
High Resolution Issues
In making photographs with the two cameras I notice a few more failed focus with the 100s than the 50r. In most cases, the resolution dropped to that of the 50r. However, on occasions when moving too quickly if failed to focus completely. This forced me to slow down how I made my images, which seemed to resolve the issue. Clearly, at higher resolutions, a slower steadier hand is needed even with IBIS turned on. I am guessing I may have had similar problems with the 50r but with the lower resolution, it was less apparent. In the end.
Although it may not be necessary with these two cameras I considered turning IBIS off while the camera was on a tripod. I did run a few tests to check for this and could see a slight difference between the two photographs. Although this difference would be hard to see unless the image was quite large, it does look like turning IBIS off while on a tripod would be the most prudent thing to do.
The 100s, unlike the 50sii or the 50r, uses both phase-detect and contrast-detect focus, the former speeds up the autofocus. So it is possible that the 100s could override the more accurate contrast-detect system.
I did some eclectic ISO testing with both cameras to see which sensor produced the most or least noise. One thing is certain the noise level on both sensors is very low, and even pull-out detail in dark shadows does not produce a lot of noise. I am quite convinced that all of these medium format sensors are more forgiving when opening up the shadows than either APSC or full-frame cameras. In fact, I also noticed more flexibility in recovering highlights as well.
Resolution Difference and Print Size
The GFX100 if printed at 100% will create a photograph 36 by 48 inches, compared to the GFX 50r or 50s ii at 34 by 26 inches. So either sensor will produce a very detailed large print. If you are wanting to print wall size prints then the 100s might be the better choice.
The cameras now have a fairly good lens stable which is constantly expanding and in terms of quality, these lenses are stunning. To convert the and lens field of view to 35mm you need to use a multiplier of .79; but keep in mind that the compression, distortion or f-stop do not convert directly. The lowest f-stop on the 63mm lens, for example, is 2.8 but its light gathering ability is equivalent to a 35mm f-stop of 2.21.
Choosing which camera to buy comes down to two factors cost and how big you print. In terms of the money, this is really a personal decision based on what you can afford. One consideration might be how often you upgrade your cameras, if it is frequent then the 50sii might be a better choice. After all, $2800 will buy a very nice additional lens for your kit.
The 50sii ‘s older sensor and the 100s sensor is a relatively new BSI-CMOS sensor with a copper substrate. I feel given the quality of the older sensor and the addition of IBIS in a new smaller well-balanced body either upgrade will be worth considering. However, some may really want the new technology and therefore gravitate out of principle to the 100s, and if you have the money it is a good way to future-proof your camera. Others will gravitate towards the 100s because of the resolution. One final reason might be the 100s allows much more cropping.
In short, if you don’t need the extra resolution then the GFX 50sii would be an excellent purchase or upgrade, and provide you with the same image quality and dynamic range.
- The Fuji Guys interview explanation of the GFX100s and 50sii
- Mike Mander’s Test and Review of the GFX 100s Body
- DPReview’s review of the GFX50sii
- Gordon Laing’s 100s review
- Fujifilm’s overview of the GFX100s
- Fujifilm’s overview of the GFX50sii
- Mike Mander’s test of the GFX50sii and GF 35-70mm
- Matt Granger, GFX 50sii Hands on Review of Fuji Medium Format Cameras
- DPReview’s review of the GFX100s
- Matt Brandon on the GFX50ii